The union for senior civil servants in the UK, First Division Association (FDA), wants the High Court to overturn UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to exonerate Home Secretary Priti Patel amid allegations of bullying raised within her department.
In a written submission, FDA general secretary Dave Penman told the High Court that “civil servants should expect to work with ministers without fear of being bullied or harassed” and that PM Johnson’s actions had “fundamentally undermined” the disciplinary process.
The issue dates back to last year when Sir Philip Rutnam dramatically resigned as the senior-most civil servant in the UK Home Office pointing the finger of blame at Ms Patel.
He is separately pursuing a claim against the department through the employment tribunal.
Meanwhile, a Cabinet Office probe into whether Ms Patel had breached the ministerial code concluded last year with the finding that she was in breach, albeit “unintentionally”.
While ministers are usually expected to resign if they are found in breach of the code, it ultimately rests with the Prime Minister on whether to take any action on an independent Ministerial Code adviser”s findings.
Boris Johnson, who has consistently supported Ms Patel ever since the allegations first emerged, had declared that he had “full confidence” in the 48-year-old Indian-origin minister, who holds one of the UK’s highest political offices as Home Secretary.
Sir Alex Allan, the independent adviser on the Ministerial Code, had resigned following that decision.
“I recognise that it is for the prime minister to make a judgement on whether actions by a minister amount to a breach of the Ministerial Code. But I feel that it is right that I should now resign from my position as the Prime Minister’s independent adviser on the Code,” read Allan’s statement at the time.
Now, the FDA union has decided to take the issue further by seeking a judicial review of the UK Prime Minister’s decision.
According to BBC News, the FDA claims that if the UK PM’s decision was not “corrected” by the court, “his interpretation of the Ministerial Code will result in that document failing to protect workplace standards across government”.
The Home Office has not responded to the latest development but Priti Patel has rejected all allegations against her, while her supporters claimed she had been the victim of a smear campaign.
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